Inflation forces tough choices on Lebanese

Ibrahim Jaber was laid off when this fast food restaurant in Beirut shut down. He was a chef.

Inflation was one of the main reasons the popular Classic Sandwich restaurant closed.

Over the past two years, a financial crisis has pushed more than half of Lebanese into poverty and knocked 90% off the value of the local currency against the dollar.

Unable to find another job, Jaber has joined the swelling ranks of Lebanese who struggle to afford the basics, like food, or education, as prices rise and their cash loses worth.

"I will honestly not register my daughter in school this year, I can't afford it. The restaurant owners used to give us a fund for school, now that's gone."

Classic Sandwich owner Ali Hammoud says he had fewer and fewer customers, while a chronic fuel shortage meant he was paying more and more to keep his generators running and his delivery bikes on the road.

He put off closing down for as long as possible, fearing for his staff.

"At our peak, we were all over Beirut, we had 120 delivery people. Wherever you went in Beirut, you would see Classic Sandwich, so this is hard, really hard."

The World Food Programme says food prices have risen by more than 550% in two years.

Supermarket aisles now have gaps, and food shortages loom on the horizon, importers warn.

Parents report going without food so their children eat.

[SHOPPER] "I am looking at shoppers, they are all holding items and checking prices, more than they are buying. It is unfortunate what is happening, you see people who actually want to buy food removing items at the cashier. I don't know where we're heading."

Experts are warning hyperinflation could be next, if Lebanon's deeply divided politicians do not form a government soon to tackle the crisis.

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